The Panopticon of International Law: B’Tselem’s Camera Project and the Enforcement of International Law in a Transnational Society

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Abstract

This paper analyzes the influence of transnational non-state actors on compliance with international legal rules as part of Michel Foucault’s power/knowledge structure. In particular, it examines the effects of the Shooting Back project, organized by the Israeli non-governmental organization B’Tselem, on the level of investigations of alleged violations of the law of occupation. In 2007, B’Tselem supplied Palestinians living in high-conflict areas with video cameras in order to capture, expose, and “seek redress for” human rights violations in the Occupied Territories. According to Jeremy Bentham’s principles of panopticism, power should be visible and unverifiable. The implementation of these principles by transnational actors is highlighted by the Shooting Back project in Israel. This project caused soldiers and their commanders to become aware of the possibility that their actions were being observed and documented without the exact location or identity of the observer being known. Shooting Back also demonstrates the potential role of transnational actors in conflict resolution. Such actors can assist in the implementation of Bentham’s principles through the geographical spread and use of affordable means of communication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235 - 262
Number of pages28
JournalOsgoode Hall Law Journal
Volume52
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

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